Posts Tagged 'education'

Exploring the “evil twin of global warming”: public understanding of ocean acidification in the United States

Ocean acidification (OA) occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolves into oceans. OA and climate change are both caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and many scientists consider them equally critical problems. We assess if preexisting beliefs, ideologies, value predispositions, and demographics affect OA perceptions among the U.S. public. Nearly 80% of respondents know little about OA, but concern increased following a message explaining OA and climate change, especially among females, liberals, and climate change believers. OA information seeking intentions and research support were also greater among females, liberals, and climate change believers. We discuss implications for efforts to increase OA public awareness.

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Students’ engagement with real-time graphs in CSCL settings: scrutinizing the role of teacher support

This paper reports on a study of teacher support in experimental computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) settings where students engage with graphs in real-time labs within the context of school science. Real-time labs are digital devices and software connected to student-controlled sensors or probes that can measure and visualize data graphically. The empirical setting was a science project about ocean acidification (OA) where lower secondary school students conducted measurements of the pH value of water with increased concentrations of CO2. The analytical focus is on student–teacher interaction during group-work activities where the students carried out, reviewed and reported on the real-time lab experiment. The analyses show that students needed additional support from the teacher in interpreting the real-time graphs and in making connections between the graphic representation, the practical undertakings of the experiment and the underlying scientific phenomena. Most importantly, the study demonstrates the complexity of teacher support in CSCL settings and how this type of support intersects with the support provided by digital resources, peer collaboration and applied instructional design.

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Immersive virtual reality field trips facilitate learning about climate change

Across four studies, two controlled lab experiments and two field studies, we tested the efficacy of immersive Virtual Reality (VR) as an education medium for teaching the consequences of climate change, particularly ocean acidification. Over 270 participants from four different learning settings experienced an immersive underwater world designed to show the process and effects of rising sea water acidity. In all of our investigations, after experiencing immersive VR people demonstrated knowledge gains or inquisitiveness about climate science and in some cases, displayed more positive attitudes toward the environment after comparing pre- and post-test assessments. The analyses also revealed a potential post-hoc mechanism for the learning effects, as the more that people explored the spatial learning environment, the more they demonstrated a change in knowledge about ocean acidification. This work is unique by showing distinct learning gains or an interest in learning across a variety of participants (high school, college students, adults), measures (learning gain scores, tracking data about movement in the virtual world, qualitative responses from classroom teachers), and content (multiple versions varying in length and content about climate change were tested). Our findings explicate the opportunity to use immersive VR for environmental education and to drive information-seeking about important social issues such as climate change.

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Shifting the balance: engaging students in using a modeling tool to learn about ocean acidification

Modeling is one of the core scientific and engineering practices described in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Students are expected to construct, use, evaluate, and revise their models to make sense of phenomena or to find solutions to problems. Technology tools can support the development of students’ modeling practice when learning about environmental issues. This study investigates the incorporation of an online computational modeling tool in a middle school curricular unit focusing on ocean acidification. We present the advantages and challenges experienced by students and teachers while engaging in the unit and using the modeling tool. Our results indicate that integrating the modeling tool in the ocean acidification curricular unit facilitates students’ interest and engagement in environmental responsibility and focused students’ attention toward human involvement and impact on the environment. Students perceived the tool and the curricular unit to be relevant to their lives and important in promoting their content learning and modeling practice. However, students and teachers reported several challenges, mostly related to the complexity of using the modeling tool and working with the resulting graphs and charts. We discuss these advantages and challenges and suggest recommendations for supporting students’ modeling practice when learning about environmental issues.
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Tactile approaches to help learners visualize key processes in environmental health sciences

This chapter describes how hands-on models, or manipulatives, can be employed to improve the environmental health literacy of a variety of people, from science teachers and students in classrooms, to global audiences in large festival gatherings. Environmental health concepts can be quite abstract. For example, the effect of wood smoke on human lungs. People are concerned about the exposure to toxic molecules from the smoke, but find an explanation of the chemical process by which wood smoke harms human health too difficult to fully understand. Hands-on activities and models are a visual and tactile way of communicating essential molecular environmental health concepts in an inviting way without requiring a technical background.

The MIT Edgerton Center Molecule Set (hereafter referred to as the Molecule Set) is one example of an engaging model set that employs a simple design of differently colored LEGO® bricks to represent atoms. The set was designed to teach chemical principles to middle school students, and has evolved to include new topics with a more environmental health emphasis such as climate change and air pollution. The success of the Molecule Set and corresponding lessons stems from a unique collaboration between MIT scientists and the MIT Edgerton Center. This chapter highlights the Molecule Set and other relevant examples where hands-on models have been used to communicate abstract science concepts and improve environmental health literacy.

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Effects of teaching household actions to address ocean acidification on student knowledge and attitudes

Ocean acidification (OA), the change in ocean chemistry due to increasing concentrations of anthropogenic carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, is an environmental problem that is an active area of scientific research yet remains largely outside of the public’s awareness. It is often assumed that if we raise OA awareness, then the public will support and take action to help mitigate the problem. This research project examines this assumption through the lens of educating high school students about OA. The research included three phases: (i) review of existing teaching resources on OA, (ii) development and refinement of a new OA curriculum based on strengths and gaps identified during the review process, and (iii) a longitudinal experiment testing the impacts to knowledge and attitudes of two approaches to teaching about OA. This study has implications for those engaging in OA outreach and education efforts specifically, and for environmental education campaigns in general. During this study, we found that at least 90 teaching resources focused on OA are already available. These resources provide teachers with multiple approaches to teaching about OA, yet do not adequately address the multiple impacts of OA nor teach students about ways to help address the problem. We developed our own curriculum that underwent four rounds of revisions before appearing in the form presented here. Our experiment found that our teaching intervention increased knowledge but that attitudinal changes, when present, did not persist over time. Despite this lack of attitude change, student attitudes were generally sufficient to support mitigation actions.

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UK public perceptions of ocean acidification – the importance of place and environmental identity

The marine environment is affected by climate change in many ways but it is also affected by the separate problem of ocean acidification (OA). Anthropogenic carbon dioxide that is absorbed by the ocean causes changes in ocean chemistry including an increase in acidity. Fisheries and shellfish industries, which are vital livelihoods for some communities have already been affected by OA. As there has been little research conducted to examine public risk perceptions of this issue, the aim was to explore this through a survey (N = 954) carried out in the UK. The survey explored a range of psychological factors including concern, place attachment, and environmental identity that are known to influence risk perceptions. A regression analysis found that more concerned participants had stronger environmental identities and higher levels of knowledge about OA. As predicted, they also felt more attached to the ocean and felt more negative about OA. It was clear that place attachment and environmental identity were important factors and thus should not be neglected when developing risk communications, particularly for this unfamiliar risk issue. As unfamiliar and complex risks such as OA are becoming more prevalent and must be communicated successfully in a world full of conflicting information, it is important to consider how OA is perceived by the public and how this can inform policy decisions in future. If major mitigation and adaptation strategies are adopted by policymakers the success of these will also ultimately require society to accept them.

Continue reading ‘UK public perceptions of ocean acidification – the importance of place and environmental identity’

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Ocean acidification in the IPCC AR5 WG II

OUP book